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FIRST ON WITN: Mold covered vents and other issues detailed in Pines Elementary report

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 9:38 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 4:16 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - An air quality report documenting testing of an elementary school that is closed indefinitely revealed high levels of mold and other problems.

Washington County Superintendent Dr. Linda Carr said that the problems at Pines Elementary were identified by Piedmont Service Group which surveyed all the county facilities.

Testing by Piedmont at Pines Elementary took place on March 25th and its report is dated March 30th.

Children switched to virtual learning Wednesday.

Piedmont says that 19 samples were taken from the school.

Pictures taken by Piedmont show air ventilation ducts identified as having Cladosporium, a common indoor and outdoor mold.

“As for the mold spores in the air. The report show elevated spore counts. There is further action required on account of such high spore counts. Most rooms were over 3,000 spores per m³. One room was at 82,100 m³. There were also Hyphal Fragments which indicate growth. Above the drop ceiling needs to be evaluated,” the report reads.

The inspection results from Piedmont also made several other notes:

-There are multiple roof leaks/condensation issues.

-Some of the HVAC returns are blocked with debris.

-Carbon Dioxide levels indicate more fresh air is needed.

-The lab results confirm the need for further assessment by a remediation contractor.

“Have the HVAC coils cleaned 2x a year. Dirt and possible microbial growth on the coils. This adds more contaminants into the breathing area and reduces efficiency and cost more to operate,” recommendations from Piedmont included.

Superintendent Carr, who was hired last Summer, told WITN that the school has been having issues since 2007.

“I don’t think that the health department or anyone is concerned that anyone needs to rush out for medical care or anything of that nature. In fact, the company didn’t say we are calling OSHA, we are shutting down the building. They did not say that,” Carr said.

Carr said that the system will be working to get a quote on replacing ductwork and upgrading air filters. She said they also want to have the coils cleaned on the HVAC unit and have them on a service plan.

This is not the first time the elementary school has been shut down due to environmental concerns.

In the fall of 2007, the school shut down on two occasions after six children went to the emergency room complaining of coughing, general respiratory distress, and vomiting. This came five days after some 30 students began coughing and complaining of headaches.

The school reopened after state experts said they didn’t find anything unusual and didn’t believe there was an environmental problem.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

Mold and other air quality problems have shut down a Washington County elementary school.

An air quality report that was dated March 30th, was presented Tuesday night at the Washington County School Board.

Pines Elementary is closed indefinitely, and students will be on remote learning only, according to Washington County Schools’ Superintendent Linda Carr.

The virtual change will remain in place Thursday and Friday for students and instructional staff.

**URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT- PLEASE BE ADVISED** Dear Washington County Staff, Students and Parents, This is Superintendent...

Posted by Washington County Schools NC on Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Cafeteria staff from the elementary school will be directed to report by Mr. Rasonabe and custodial staff is asked to report to Ms. Cantrell in the maintenance office for work assignments for the remainder of the week.

Curbside meal delivery will be available at Creswell Elementary School, Washington County Middle School, and Washington County High School.

The first Spring Community Meeting will be held at Creswell Wednesday at 6 p.m. both in-person and virtually.

All other school sites in the county will continue to operate as normal. Air quality experts and cleaning companies will tour Pines Elementary school this week.

School officials say a plan for next week is still being determined and will be announced later.

Several years ago the school was closed several times due to problems with its heating system.

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